Category Archives: Waste Management

Dirty and Dangerous: Worker Safety and Health in New York City’s Scofflaw Commercial Waste Industry

Source: David M. Newman, New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH), May 2016

Workers who collect, transport, sort, and transfer residential and commercial waste for recycling or disposal perform an essential public health service, often at great risk of injury, illness, or death. Waste collection work is one of the most dangerous jobs in the U.S. Waste workers are ten times more likely to be killed on the job than the average worker and two and a half times more likely to be injured than miners. Nationally, occupational fatalities in private sector solid waste collection are consistently higher than those in local government sanitation agencies; 85% of fatalities in the industry occur in the private sector…..

Waste Workers’ Exposure to Airborne Fungal and Bacterial Species in the Truck Cab and During Waste Collection

Source: Anne Mette Madsen, Taif Alwan, Anders Ørberg, Katrine Uhrbrand and Marie Birk Jørgensen, Annals of Occupational Hygiene, Advance Access, First published online: April 20, 2016
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
A large number of people work with garbage collection, and exposure to microorganisms is considered an occupational health problem. However, knowledge on microbial exposure at species level is limited. The aim of the study was to achieve knowledge on waste collectors’ exposure to airborne inhalable fungal and bacterial species during waste collection with focus on the transport of airborne microorganisms into the truck cab. Airborne microorganisms were collected with samplers mounted in the truck cab, on the workers’ clothes, and outdoors. Fungal and bacterial species were quantified and identified. The study showed that the workers were exposed to between 112 and 4.8×104 bacteria m−3 air and 326 and 4.6×104 fungi m−3 air. The personal exposures to bacteria and fungi were significantly higher than the concentrations measured in the truck cabs and in the outdoor references. On average, the fungal and bacterial concentrations in truck cabs were 111 and 7.7 times higher than outdoor reference measurements. In total, 23 fungal and 38 bacterial species were found and identified. Most fungal species belonged to the genus Penicillium and in total 11 Penicillium species were found. Identical fungal species were often found both in a personal sample and in the same person’s truck cab, but concentrations were on average 27 times higher in personal samples. Concentrations of fungal and bacterial species found only in the personal samples were lower than concentrations of species also found in truck cabs. Skin-related bacteria constituted a large fraction of bacterial isolates found in personal and truck cab samples. In total, six Staphylococcus species were found. In outdoor samples, no skin-related bacteria were found. On average, concentrations of bacterial species found both in the truck cab and personal samples were 77 times higher in personal samples than in truck cab samples. In conclusion, high concentrations of fungi were found in truck cabs, but the highest concentrations were found in personal samples; fungal and bacterial species found in high concentrations in personal samples were also found in truck cabs, but in lower concentrations indicating that both fungi and bacteria are transported by the workers into the truck cab, and are subsequently aerosolized in the truck cab.

Dangerous Work for “Crap Money”: The Dark Side of Recycling

Source: Brian Joseph, Mother Jones, April 12, 2016

Some of America’s riskiest jobs involve processing our old stuff. …. Recycling may be good for the environment, but working conditions in the industry can be woeful. The recycling economy encompasses a wide range of businesses, from tiny drop-off centers in strip malls to sprawling scrap yards and cavernous sorting plants. The industry also includes collection services, composting plants, and e-waste and oil recovery centers. Some of the jobs at these facilities are among the most dangerous in America. Others offer meager pay, and wage violations are widespread. Experts say much of the work is carried out by immigrants or temporary workers who are poorly trained and unaware of their rights. ….

Martin Luther King Was Assassinated On This Day in 1968—While Fighting For Unions

Source: Peter Cole, In These Times, Working in These Times blog, April 4, 2106

Today, April 4th, we remember the life and dreams of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. for on this day, in 1968, he was murdered by a white supremacist at the age of 39.

King literally died while fighting for a union, murdered in Memphis in 1968 while helping that city’s sanitation workers, a majority of whom were black, organize a local of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). King had repeatedly visited the city in his final months to aid the organizing effort. The city’s elected officials were both racist and anti-union—no coincidence.

Though hardly unknown, King’s deep commitment to unions remains largely left out of the traditional telling of his story. Indeed, many do not know he championed multiple union causes in addition to fighting to end white supremacy. In fact, King devoted a large part of his short life to advocating that workers—whether African American or not—join unions, for one of his foremost goals was eradicating poverty. ….

Green Jobs: Definition and Method of Appraisal of Chemical and Biological Risks

Source: Erwan Cheneval, Marc-Antoine Busque, Claude Ostiguy, Jacques Lavoie1, Robert Bourbonnais, France Labrèche, Bouchra Bakhiyi and Joseph Zayed, The Annals of Occupational Hygiene, Volume 60 Issue 3, April 2016

From the abstract:
In the wake of sustainable development, green jobs are developing rapidly, changing the work environment. However a green job is not automatically a safe job. The aim of the study was to define green jobs, and to establish a preliminary risk assessment of chemical substances and biological agents for workers in Quebec. An operational definition was developed, along with criteria and sustainable development principles to discriminate green jobs from regular jobs. The potential toxicity or hazard associated with their chemical and biological exposures was assessed, and the workers’ exposure appraised using an expert assessment method. A control banding approach was then used to assess risks for workers in selected green jobs. A double entry model allowed us to set priorities in terms of chemical or biological risk. Among jobs that present the highest risk potential, several are related to waste management. The developed method is flexible and could be adapted to better appraise the risks that workers are facing or to propose control measures.

Optimization of municipal solid waste collection and transportation routes

Source: Swapan Das, Bidyut Kr. Bhattacharyya, Waste Management, Volume 43, September 2015
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Optimization of municipal solid waste (MSW) collection and transportation through source separation becomes one of the major concerns in the MSW management system design, due to the fact that the existing MSW management systems suffer by the high collection and transportation cost. Generally, in a city different waste sources scatter throughout the city in heterogeneous way that increase waste collection and transportation cost in the waste management system. Therefore, a shortest waste collection and transportation strategy can effectively reduce waste collection and transportation cost. In this paper, we propose an optimal MSW collection and transportation scheme that focus on the problem of minimizing the length of each waste collection and transportation route. We first formulize the MSW collection and transportation problem into a mixed integer program. Moreover, we propose a heuristic solution for the waste collection and transportation problem that can provide an optimal way for waste collection and transportation. Extensive simulations and real testbed results show that the proposed solution can significantly improve the MSW performance. Results show that the proposed scheme is able to reduce more than 30% of the total waste collection path length.

Highlights
• Profitable integrated solid waste management system.
• Optimal municipal waste collection scheme between the sources and waste collection centres.
• Optimal path calculation between waste collection centres and transfer stations.
• Optimal waste routing between the transfer stations and processing plants.

Designing Pay-As-You-Throw schemes in municipal waste management services: A holistic approach

Source: Valerio Elia, Maria Grazia Gnoni, Fabiana Tornese, Waste Management, In Press – Corrected Proof, Available online 30 July 2015
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Pay-As-You-Throw (PAYT) strategies are becoming widely applied in solid waste management systems; the main purpose is to support a more sustainable – from economic, environmental and social points of view – management of waste flows. Adopting PAYT charging models increases the complexity level of the waste management service as new organizational issues have to be evaluated compared to flat charging models. In addition, innovative technological solutions could also be adopted to increase the overall efficiency of the service. Unit pricing, user identification and waste measurement represent the three most important processes to be defined in a PAYT system. The paper proposes a holistic framework to support an effective design and management process. The framework defines most critical processes and effective organizational and technological solutions for supporting waste managers as well as researchers.

Highlights
• Pay-As-You-Throw (PAYT) schemes are becoming widespread in several countries.
• Economic, organizational and technological issues have to be integrated in an efficient PAYT model design.
• Efficiency refers to a PAYT system which support high citizen participation rates as well as economic sustainability.
• Different steps and constraints have to be evaluated from collection services to type technologies.
• An holistic approach is discussed to support PAYT systems diffusion.
Related:
Hanson, Mass., Cuts Trash by 64% and Saves $51,000 in First Year of Pay-as-You-Throw
Source: WasteZero, Press Release, July 27, 2015

At the one-year anniversary of its pay-as-you-throw (PAYT) waste reduction and recycling program, the town of Hanson, Mass., has reduced its solid waste by 64%, more than doubled its recycling rate, and saved $51,000 in disposal fees, according to new figures released by the town.

Marion County jail’s recycling team saves nearly $10,000

Source: Alisha Roemeling, Statesman Journal, January 9, 2015

The Marion County jail’s recycling team set some records in 2014 for their innovative, economical and planet preserving ideas. Since the implementation of new recycling programs in 2013, the jail has saved nearly $9,800 in dumping fees, and kept 112 tons of trash from being thrown in local landfill. Average disposal costs have gone from $900 per dump to $256 per dump. Some of the recycling programs, adopted by both inmates and staff as a way to reduce waste and save taxpayers’ money, include purchasing milk in bulk, using fewer trash can liners, sorting trash, composting food waste and recycling soap….

What I discovered in New York City trash

Source: Robin Nagle, Ted Talks, September 2013

New York City residents produce 11,000 tons of garbage every day. Every day! This astonishing statistic is just one of the reasons Robin Nagle started a research project with the city’s Department of Sanitation. She walked the routes, operated mechanical brooms, even drove a garbage truck herself–all so she could answer a simple-sounding but complicated question: who cleans up after us?